Dangerous Weapon

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Dangerous weapons generally refer to items that can cause serious bodily injury to someone. Many federal and state statutes make the possession or use of dangerous weapons illegal, and especially in furtherance of a felony, sentencing often is higher for crimes committed with a dangerous weapon. The term dangerous weapons should be contrasted with deadly weapons. Statutes often treat the two similarly, but deadly weapons tend to be more narrowly focused on guns and objects that often are lethal. Dangerous weapons can be much broader, including objects that are not lethal in nature. In McLaughlin v. United States, the Supreme Court found a dangerous weapon as used in a federal statute even included weapons that inherently were not dangerous, like a wooden gun, but created fear of danger. 

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]